Not every form of psychological research involves direct interaction with research participants. Sometimes psychologists use the evidence provided from documents to learn about human experience, or to analyse what other psychologists have learned so far. In this chapter, we will look at two major ways of obtaining psychological evidence from documents: diary methods of investigation, and the research method known as meta-analysis.
What do these threeterms mean?structured questionnaireopen-ended formatdiary record
The diary method is an approach to collecting data in which respondents are required to keep notes about a particular type of experience or event, at appropriate intervals over a period of time. The notes provide the basic data for the research, which can be analysed using a variety of different methods, both quantitative and qualitative. Diaries can vary in form, ranging from a tightly structured questionnaire, which needs to be completed on a regular basis, to open-ended reports, in which the person notes down their experiences from time to time. But whatever form they take, diary methods always involve the participant making repeated recordings over time, and this allows the researcher to explore issues of development, change or recurrent experience in a way which is very difficult using other research techniques.
There are several advantages to using a diary approach for the researcher. Breakwell and Wood (1995) identified seven in all, which are listed in Table 9.1. But perhaps the most important advantage of all is